New register launched to crack down on money laundering
The Government wants to stop criminals laundering illicit proceeds by using shell companies to buy properties.
Overseas companies owning or buying property in the UK will have to give details of their ultimate owners in a public register under a move to crack down on criminal gangs laundering money, the Government has announced.
Draft laws will be published in the summer, and the “world first” register will go live by 2021.
Figures show that more than £180 million worth of UK property has been investigated for suspected proceeds of corruption since 2004, with around three quarters using off-shore secrecy.
The Business Department said the register will reduce opportunities for criminals to use shell companies to buy properties in London and elsewhere to launder illicit proceeds.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “We are committed to protecting the integrity and reputation of our property market to ensure the UK is seen as an attractive business environment – a key part of our industrial strategy.
“This world-first register will build on our reputation for corporate transparency as well as helping to create a hostile environment for economic crimes like money laundering.”
The register will also provide the Government with greater transparency on overseas companies seeking public contracts.